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Rockets harken back to Clutch City for inspiration

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 1, 2014 at 1:48 pm •  Published: May 1, 2014
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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Rockets reached back into their history to stave off elimination in their first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Houston earned the nickname "Clutch City" back in the mid-1990s when the team won back-to-back NBA championships. The Rockets brought the moniker back for Game 5 against the Blazers with a pep talk from a star of that team and T-shirts for their fans.

Now Houston will see if this team has that historic resilience as the series moves back to Portland for Game 6 on Friday night.

The Rockets are still down 3-2. So, lose and their summer starts Saturday.

"I don't want to go on vacation," Dwight Howard said. "I want to win. I want to give everything I've got. Every night, put my heart into it and sacrifice my body and do whatever I can to help this team win. It's not going to be easy."

After losing the opening two games in Houston, then claiming one of a pair in Portland, the Rockets rallied for a 108-98 victory on Wednesday night to narrow Portland's advantage in the series. Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Jeremy Lin redeemed himself from a poor performance in Game 4 with 21 points off the bench.

The Rockets limited All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge to eight points after he averaged 35.3 points in the first four games. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 27 points and Damian Lillard added 26.

Aldridge said Houston wasn't doing anything differently.

"No, that was just how the game went," he said afterward. "The ball didn't come to me as much tonight. Our guys were making shots and we were playing off them and that's how the game went. It wasn't about how Dwight (Howard) guarded me or anything like that."

The Rockets were simply determined playing in front of a crowd wearing red Clutch City shirts. Former guard Mario Elie gave the team some impassioned words of encouragement during practice a day earlier.

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